Covering the bombing of Tripoli from a five-star hotel

Some would call it perverse, the idea that journalists are spooning the foam from their cappuccinos in the hotel’s outdoor bar while precision bombs rip apart bunkers and probably soldiers just beyond the nearby trees. But life at the Rixos and at Bab al-Aziziya follows its own rules. Gadhafi’s people escort the reporters to the hotel, and guards are posted in the driveway to prevent them from setting out on their own. Anyone who wants to investigate the situation outside the hotel must do so in the company of a friendly government “minder.” Of course, this makes it impossible to speak with rebels in the city…

Ibrahim is also staying at the Rixos, which happens to be the safest place for members of the regime. After all, NATO will hardly bomb a hotel filled with Westerners. Indeed, a member of the regime’s propaganda machine jokes that Gadhafi himself is probably holed up in a bunker beneath the hotel, and there are even rumors that he could be staying in a separate wing of the building.

The reporters, in other words, are also human shields, protecting people like Ibrahim, who is staying on the same floor as they are, together with his German wife Julia and their nine-month-old baby.